Is ‘The Darkest Minds’ based on a book? Director Jennifer Yuh Nelson talks us through the adaptation process
She went to great lengths to make sure fans of the novels were satisfied
The Darkest Minds director Jennifer Yuh Nelson has revealed the great lengths that she and the film’s creative team went to in order to do the adaptation of Alexandra Bracken’s book justice, insisting that the novelist was involved throughout.
“I spoke a great deal with the author Alexandra Bracken, because there are passionate fans of the book that we had to make sure that they got a truthful adaptation of the book,” Nelson recently told me over the phone.
“But we couldn’t do it exactly the same. I mean, if we were doing it shot for shot out of the book it would have been a 10-15 hour movie. But the characters are very, very rich. They are very nuanced and realistic, because she was very close in age to the characters when she wrote them.”
“They had a voice that was fresh. I wanted to make sure that those characters were carried over, a lot of big set pieces are carried over, and are visualized in a way that we couldn’t do word for word in the books.”
“Because most of the books were voice over and first person, and of course you can’t necessarily do it as satisfactorily visually in a film. So the big set pieces are the same, many of the big arcs are the same, many of the dialogue is the same.”
“In fact, the big emotional moment of the film, which is what I signed on for, I went to back to the book after I had read the script and put more from the book into the movie so that the fans could recognize the moment when they see it.”
But while Nelson was obviously intent on making sure that Bracken was pleased with the adaptation, she was just as concerned with satisfying fans of “The Darkest Minds” series, too. Which is why she went to such to such lengths to include various Easter eggs and references to the beloved books.
“They were definitely on my mind. It is a matter of respect. You have a piece of material that people love. And you don’t want to step all over what they love. You want to give them something that rewards them for enjoying something.”
“So there are Easter eggs throughout the film. There are moments that are purely there for the fan girls and boys, and basically fans of the book. And they will recognize it.”
“For instance, there’s a moment with socks that Alex the author was actually on set for when we were shooting, and we gave her the socks, and fans of the book will understand what that means.”
“The Darkest Minds” is now in cinemas.